New Audio: Betty Black’s Pop Standard-Leaning Cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”

As a Queens native, The Ramones have a very special place in my heart —  I’ve walked on the streets that young Joey, Tommy, Dee Dee and Johnny walked on as a teenagers and young men and in some way or another I’m intimately familiar with many of the places they’ve referenced in their songs. Hell, if you grew up in Queens, I’d bet that you probably spent some part of your summer on Rockaway Beach, and it gives “Rockaway Beach,” a deeply personal feel.  In any case, more than enough ink has been spilled on how influential the band had been to both punk rock, rock and other genres throughout the band’s run and their lives — and more than enough ink has been spilled on what arguably may be one of their best known songs “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may be familiar with New York-based singer/songwriter Sylvia Gordon, best known in the music world as Sylvia Black. (To avoid deeper confusion, I’ll refer to Gordon as her musical pseudonym, Sylvia Black from this point forward.) Black has received international attention for her time as the frontwoman of electro-pop outfit K.U.D.U., and for collaborations with The Black Eyed Peas, Moby, William Orbit, Kelis, Spank Rock, The Knocks and Telepopmusik, among others. Over the past year, Black has received attention both here and across the blogosphere performing and recording under the moniker and alter ego Betty Black. Interestingly with her alter ego, Sylvia Black’s sound is a decided departure from her previously recorded work as it generally draws from garage rock, Southern gothic blues, Spaghetti Western soundtracks and atmospheric electronics while thematically the material explores love, lust, longing and obsession — and in a fashion that’s darkly seductive.

As a special holiday treat, Black is gifting one of the most interesting and unique covers of The Ramones’ mega-hit “I Wanna Be Sedated” that I’ve ever heard. Featuring a gorgeous Burt Bacharach/pop standard-like arrangement of horns, strings, vibraphone and upright bass Black’s rendition is decadently opulent and sensual, while sounding as though it were recorded under the influence of Quaaludes and/or Xanax that makes it trippy — and evokes the dreamy sensation of being sedated. There are a couple things that make Black’s rendition so interesting to me: it manages to radically change the song’s tempo and tone without distorting or removing the song’s essence; but it also makes a long-forgotten connection between 50s and 60s pop that had been such a major influence on Joey Ramone and company.

Check out how Betty Black’s version radically differs from the original below.

Black has a series of upcoming live dates including a residency at Happy Ending every Wednesday in January as Betty Black’s Happy Blue Lounge, The project will continue what Happy Ending is best known for — putting a lounge lizard/exotica spin on rock and post-punk classics along with originals. Check out dates below.


Live Dates

12/21 NYC, NY @ Pinks (Betty Black & Cullers)
12/22 NYC, NY @ Leftfield ((Betty Black & Cullers)
12/28 NYC, NY @ Elvis Guesthouse (Betty Black DJ set)
1/6 NYC, NY @ Happy Ending (Betty Black’s Happy Blue Lounge)
1/13 NYC, NY @ Happy Ending (Betty Black’s Happy Blue Lounge)
1/20 NYC, NY @ Happy Ending (Betty Black’s Happy Blue Lounge)
1/27 NYC, NY @ Happy Ending (Betty Black’s Happy Blue Lounge)
2/7 Los Angeles, CA @ The Mint (Betty Black & Cullers)
2/10 Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Betty Black & Cullers)